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    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      I could have sworn we had an old thread on archery-related books, but I couldn’t find it, so let’s start a new one.

      This is a great book I’m just finishing:

      Arrows Against Steel: The Story of the Bow and How it Forever Changed Warfare by Vic Hurley

      I like books that challenge, or at least offer an alternative to, the commonly-accepted paradigm, and Vic Hurley does a very literate and well-researched job of it in this book.

      I find that too many archery history books focus inordinately on Western European history, particularly the ‘English’ longbow, which (in my opinion) has been mythologized beyond all proportion to its actual accomplishments. Hurley does an excellent job of taking a much more global view of the rise of the bow and arrow, describing the technological advancements over time, as well as the tactics that allowed the bow to be employed succesfully on the battlefield and why, as well as examples where it was not.

      If you have not read much about the people of the Asian Steppe – particularly the Mongols, this book will give you a new appreciation for the incredible toughness and effectivess of these horse-archers. The book also details their highly-evolved and organized tactics, which to the Western European mindset of “proper” warfare of the time, appeared to be utter chaos, though it was anything but.

      Hurley certainly gives the English longbow its due, but also explains how its limited successes (basically 3 battles early in the 100 Years War) were in large part due to deficiencies in the tactics of the French. Once the French got wise and evolved their tactics (while the English clung stubbornly to theirs) the longbow quickly faded in effectiveness, and in fact, they lost the war in the end.

      From the first known uses of the bow in organized warfare with the Akkadians and Assyrians, to the sunset of the bow on the battlefield with the rise of effective firearms, this book gave me a whole new appreciation for the huge impact that the bow has had upon much of human history. Highly recommended.

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Moderator
      Post count: 563

      I may have recommended this previously. That’s worth repeating here:

      The Bow Builder’s Book: European Bow Building from the Stone Age to Today

      From the publisher:

      “Experienced bow builders and practical archaeologists describe the history, evolution, and construction of European style longbows in the revised second edition of this engaging book. For the beginner, clear, uncomplicated instructions are offered, including updated descriptions of construction techniques, tools, materials, and shooting styles. For more advanced bowyers there are tips on choosing wood and adhesive, and explanations of the evolution/adaptation of bow design, including precise dimensions for replicating special historic bow types, from Stone Age bows to modern laminated longbows. This book also offers comprehensive instructions on how to properly test your newly built longbow and construct arrows. This guide is ideal for the bow hunter, bowyer, and marksman looking for a new challenge.”

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      E –

      I think you did post about that book a while back, but I’m glad you did again, because it dropped off my radar and I need to put it on my reading list. It looks like a really interesting book.

      This one is up next on my shelf:

    • James HarveyJames Harvey
      Member
      Post count: 1130

      Isn’t it funny that so many tribal bowhunting societies (I can only think of two right now… but I’m sticking with “so many”) used to have a big quiver that carried their arrows and their bow, now so many of us have a little tiny quiver that we put on our bow to carry our arrows.

      I guess if I didn’t have a wall to hang my bow on and actually took it everywhere with me I’d want a carry bag too, so maybe it’s not that funny after all, just reasonably, uncomically, practical.

      Anyway, an interesting discussion Bruce. You piqued my interest with your dismissal of the ELB. I bought a book last year on the history of the longbow, which skipped forward rather rapidly through what I thought was the interesting stuff, to English slaughtering French and gave it the mythical Robin Hood kind of spin. I remember thinking “Settle down pal, it’s an area of effect weapon system that took advantage of an entrenched and inflexible set of tactics…Not some mythical confirmation of the superiority of English craftsmanship and manhood (you’d only have to look at Jaguar cars and English football players to see how ridiculous a notion that is)”. I couldn’t handle his romantic prattle and didn’t get more than half way through.

      Perhaps I’ll bend my mind to something Asian next 😉

    • Stephen Graf
      Moderator
      Post count: 2361

      It is a mean joke the universe has played on me. What I mean is that the thing I love most (besides family of course) is so closely connected to the thing I hate most (war).

      I shy away from books that glorify the role bows played in war. I know it is historically important to understanding ourselves, and I know the connection is there and can’t be denied. Nevertheless, I wish it was not so.

      I depend on my wife, and you guys, to build my reading list. For that I am grateful. With that said, I think I’ll give myself an (undeserved) existential break, and skip the war books.

      But keep the reviews coming! For the first time in recent memory, the lamp is taller than the stack of books on my side table…

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      ausjim wrote: Isn’t it funny that so many tribal bowhunting societies (I can only think of two right now… but I’m sticking with “so many”) used to have a big quiver that carried their arrows and their bow, now so many of us have a little tiny quiver that we put on our bow to carry our arrows.

      The Mongol riders would supposedly carry as many as 60 to a few hundred arrows at a time, but being on horseback probably made that easier in some ways.

      On that note, I think it’s also fascinating to think of the support crews that were required to keep a large army of archers supplied on a distant campaign – in addition to bowyers, there would be knappers, shaft-makers, fletchers, string makers…a huge team of people continually producing these products, while on the move, no less.

      ausjim wrote: Anyway, an interesting discussion Bruce. You piqued my interest with your dismissal of the ELB. I bought a book last year on the history of the longbow, which skipped forward rather rapidly through what I thought was the interesting stuff, to English slaughtering French and gave it the mythical Robin Hood kind of spin. I remember thinking “Settle down pal, it’s an area of effect weapon system that took advantage of an entrenched and inflexible set of tactics…Not some mythical confirmation of the superiority of English craftsmanship and manhood (you’d only have to look at Jaguar cars and English football players to see how ridiculous a notion that is)”. I couldn’t handle his romantic prattle and didn’t get more than half way through.

      Haha…To be fair, I’m not exactly dismissing the ELB entirely, but I do think that its prominence has been blown out of proportion in relation to the reality of its actual accomplishments on the world stage, and that much of that has to do with our cultural bias. Not in any deliberate way, but just by nature of the fact that many of us are descended from Anglo Saxon and/or Western European stock, and we tend to favor, and mythologize, our own histories. But it becomes pretty clear that when the English foot archer is placed in a broader, comparative context with the accomplishments of bow warriors elsewhere throughout history, carrying more sophisticated and effective bows, along with far more evolved tactics than the English ever conceived of, that the story of the ELB has been somewhat romanticized.

      Which isn’t to say that it didn’t have a period of real prominence on the battlefield (though the true successes were relatively short-lived), nor that the English approach to having all citizenry be proficient with a bow wasn’t a remarkable endeavor. And there were advantages to the simple longbow over the composite in terms of weather-proofness, among other things. The ELB had the potential to be a much more effective and devastating weapon, if it hadn’t been severely hampered by narrow notions of class hierarchy on the battlefield, and the parade-like glamour of the heavily-armoured, mounted cavalry being the focal point of action on the field.

      But many other bow cultures around the world and throughout history would have soundly trounced the English foot archers of Crecy and Agincourt in short order. Of course, if they’d been allowed to drive Jaguars and shoot from them, it might have been a whole different story, assuming there was a steady supply of spare parts…8)

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Steve Graf wrote: It is a mean joke the universe has played on me. What I mean is that the thing I love most (besides family of course) is so closely connected to the thing I hate most (war).

      I shy away from books that glorify the role bows played in war. I know it is historically important to understanding ourselves, and I know the connection is there and can’t be denied. Nevertheless, I wish it was not so.

      I depend on my wife, and you guys, to build my reading list. For that I am grateful. With that said, I think I’ll give myself an (undeserved) existential break, and skip the war books.

      But keep the reviews coming! For the first time in recent memory, the lamp is taller than the stack of books on my side table…

      I hear ya, Steve, and I’m not exactly a fan of war either. But I am a huge history buff, and whether we like it or not, war plays a huge role in history, and has ripple effect impacts that spread far beyond war itself.

      But enough about that, for the history of the bow is obviously much more rich than solely what happened on the battlefield…. let’s hear about some more archery-related books!

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      Great discussion. But I have to tell you that the name “Smithhammer” has become a curse around here:D What more books to order? 😆

      Mike

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      colmike wrote: But I have to tell you that the name “Smithhammer” has become a curse around here:D

      Your house too?

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Another fine recent book I read:

      American Indian Archery

      by Reginald and Gladys Laubin

      I really wasn’t sure how good this was going to be, and I was pleasantly surprised. The Laubins had extensive experience living with Native Americans for much of their lives, and Charles was an avid builder of various Native American bow designs. As a result, this book is not just well-researched histoy, but a true hands-on, first-hard experience point of view. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested this aspect of bow history.

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      Oh crap—no I’ll wait till Tue to drop this one.:lol:

    • James HarveyJames Harvey
      Member
      Post count: 1130

      Hey Bruce, was there much variety across North America in terms of bow styles, building techniques etc? Or was it a fairly consistent thing across most tribes?

      I’d read somewhere (in an anthropological context rather than archery) that the first wave of humanity from Asia predated bows and a later wave brought them over before the land bridge was ‘sunk’, so there was a definitive ‘moment’ and ‘brand’ of bow technology that arrived before N.A. was isolated once again. I wonder how much development and variation occurred after that final isolation.

      Or have I remembered wrong and just made a bunch of stuff up? 😀

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      ausjim wrote: Hey Bruce, was there much variety across North America in terms of bow styles, building techniques etc? Or was it a fairly consistent thing across most tribes?

      Jim –

      There was actually a fair bit of variation, from long, d-shaped bows, to short “double curve” bows, selfbows and composites made of horn and bone. Depended quite a bit on the tribe and the region.

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      Jim see link below. Immigrants may not have come from Asia.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLV9A8P00bw

      I will leave the discussion of bows to Bruce the procurer of books.:D

    • David Bartlett
      Post count: 75

      While not really a Bow Book, this one goes along with Mikes link.

      The premise of the book is that we came across the Atlantic from Europe, rather than Asia.

      attached file
    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      I think ancient peoples were a lot more mobile than we’ve generally given credit for.

      There are some sites in South America that also call the theory that the Bering land bridge was the only avenue for migration into question.

    • James HarveyJames Harvey
      Member
      Post count: 1130

      Mike (and Dave), that was an interesting video. People always gain credibility with me when they are the ones to raise weak points of their own hypothesis, which that chap did.

      At the end of the video he talked about a find a long way out that he expected would be dated as very old but hadn’t had the results yet. Do you know what the results of that were?

      (Sorry to hijack the thread Bruce…:wink: )

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      Jim

      Sorry I saw it somewhere but forgot the date as I remember geologic and evolutionary time by “it came before that and was a long time ago ” scale. But the Miles hill site was dated at 21,000 years ago which puts it at least 7,000 years older then the western Clovis sites.

      What I find fascinating about all this is that our ancestors were hunting and traveling around thousands of years before syphilazation. If you surf around on the sidebars to that link there is a good one with actors and animation that is rather informative and entertaining.

      No hunting today 👿 But I did a nice long hike and shot the bow at some stumps—OK, Web mom?:D

      Mike

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Not exactly a book on bows (although he does discuss bowhunting), but this is what I’ve been reading lately:

      http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Turkey-Hunting-Strategies-Effectively/dp/1585748757

      Tons of excellent, no-nonsense info about hunting turkeys, in a variety of environments. I’d highly recommend it.

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Moderator
      Post count: 563

      Smithhammer wrote: Tons of excellent, no-nonsense info about hunting turkeys, in a variety of environments. I’d highly recommend it.

      Thanks for the tip! Just ordered it – I’m birdless with two weeks to go.

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      eids

      Did you make it out on x-country ski’s?

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Moderator
      Post count: 563

      colmike wrote: eids

      Did you make it out on x-country ski’s?

      Sadly, no. The melt came about two weeks too early. The foliage has exploded in the last two days here, which will help a lot with concealment!

    • Col MikeCol Mike
      Member
      Post count: 910

      Charles

      Aw to bad that would have been neat. Our season is over next week but they quit gobbling a few days ago–great time in the woods last few weeks now it’s stumping and 3-d.

      Will order the book for fall season–and won’t use Bruce’s name, that just gets me a backhand:roll:

      Mike

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